Tree That Survived A-Bomb Sees 70th Christmas

Japanese family kept tree through calamities
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2007 1:10 PM CST
Warren Nobuaki Iwatake speaks, while sitting near to a Christmas tree, in his house in Tokyo, Friday, Dec. 7, 2007. Iwatake's family has seen more than its share of calamity. (AP Photo/Katsumi Kasahara)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – A Japanese soldier's Christmas tree has stayed with his family through dark times, and even survived the atomic bomb that killed his brother in Nagasaki. This year marks the 70th Christmas that Warren Nobuaki Iwatake has put up the fragile, three-foot tree, which he calls "a shining light, because it was a symbol of unity in my family."

Iwatake's family hoisted the tree every year through World War II, risking arrest from Japanese authorities who were suspicious of all things Western. After a US POW rescued Iwatake from a pit during the war, and Iwatake later saw the soldier beheaded, he sent pics of the tree to the man's Texas family every year. "Gradually, Christmas has become more meaningful again," said Iwatake.